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Can you pass this discriminatory voting literacy test?

The 1963 March on Washington was the beginning of the end for institutionalized prejudicial practices at polling locations.

HOUSTON — Voting wasn’t even an option for Black people and many other minorities in the United States until the 1963 March on Washington helped bring about radical change in this country

Two years after that historic march, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. watched as President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed discriminatory practices like poll taxes and literacy tests as prerequisites to voting.

Prior to the Voting Rights Act, "Southern states maintained elaborate voter registration procedures deliberately designed to deny the vote to nonwhites," according to the Civil Rights Movement Archive.

Those literacy tests -- some of which were literal, some more general -- were specifically designed to discriminate against Black Americans, the CRMA's Bruce Hartford writes.

The literal tests were intentionally complicated, confusing if not nearly impossible to pass. Whites were rarely required to take the tests, and if they were, they were "passed" by poll administrators. 

To make matters worse, the literacy tests often consisted of more than 30 questions and had to be taken in 10 minutes. You were not allowed to answer any question incorrectly.

"Even to college-educated people today the questions remain baffling," Katie Serena writes in her assessment of the tests.

Beulah Toney, an Alabama woman, became a registered voter before the Voting Rights Act was passed.

"You could only register one day of the month. I had to be able to read the Constitution of the United States and repeat the Preamble to register to vote," Toney said. "There was a lady, she and I were the same age and she was white. She told me she didn't have to do all of that."  

Can you pass a voting literacy test?

To show you just how problematic this practice was, we're challenging you to take the test yourself.

Set a timer on your phone or watch for 10 minutes.

When you're ready to start, CLICK HERE to take the test. Scroll down about halfway to find it. 

If you get frustrated, take a second and reflect on how far this country has come -- and all the people who gave everything they had, including their lives in some cases, to get us here.

CLICK HERE to check your voter registration status.

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